Crescent City (House of Earth and Blood) is a sucker-punch of a fantasy novel. I loved the book for the murder mystery and the slow-burn romance between Bryce and Hunt. Sarah J. Maas is the queen of witty banter and plot twists. If you’re experiencing a bit of a book “hangover” after finishing Crescent City, pick up one of these novels to satisfy your craving for magic, fantasy, and swoon-worthy romance.
1. A Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J. Maas
A Court of Thorns and Roses is the first in another heady fantasy series by Sarah J. Maas. Loosely based on the tale of Beauty and the Beast, ACOTAR is the story of Feyre, a human girl imprisoned by one of the High Fae after she kills a faerie disguised as a wolf. She learns that the Fae are under a curse, and she may be their only hope to break it.
Similar to Crescent City, ACOTAR gives us magic, murder, romance, and heartbreak. How far will Feyre go to save the man she loves? I think the series really hits its stride in book two, A Court of Mist and Fury, but you’ll get there soon after you breeze through A Court of Thorns and Roses.
2. Serpent & Dove, by Shelby Mahurin
Are you a fan of witches and witchcraft? Louise “Lou” le Blanc is a witch in hiding. Her kind are hunted by the “Chasseurs,” soldiers sworn to the Church. In a twist of fate, she is forced to marry a Chasseur named Reid Diggory. If he found out what she was, he would have to kill her.
This debut by Shelby Mahurin has many loveable similarities to Crescent City – a headstrong heroine with a shadowy past and a dangerous secret, strong female friendship, witty banter, and an enemies-to-lovers romance. In a marriage that neither Lou nor Reid wanted, they begin to fall for each other, even while Lou must hide her true nature and practice her magic in secret. Their push-and-pull is one of the best aspects of the book, reminiscent of Bryce and Hunt’s reluctant partnership in Crescent City.
3. Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi
Turn to Tomi Adeyemi’s debut novel Children of Blood and Bone for epic fantasy, a unique system of magic, and rich worldbuilding. When a ruthless king has the magic-wielders killed, our heroine Zelie loses her mother. She’s determined to bring back magic and take down the monarchy, so she partners up with rogue princess Amari. There’s adventure, West-African mythology, and a budding romance as Zelie finds herself attracted to her enemy, crown prince Inan. The book is written from their three alternating perspectives.
Similar to Maas’ books, Adeyemi’s characters undergo profound transformation throughout the story. You’ll love the tension and blossoming friendship between Zelie and Amari, reminiscent of Bryce’s close friendship with Danika in Crescent City.
4. A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness
Paranormal romance! Magic! Alchemy! Diana Bishop is a scholar from a distinguished line of witches, but she abandons her sorcery. When she comes across a bewitched manuscript, she unwittingly calls down a horde of paranormal beings including witches, demons, and vampires. Matthew Clairmont is a centuries-old vampire who wants to protect her. Naturally, they fall in love.
The historical background gives Diana’s story depth, much like the intricate detail in Crescent City. Not to mention, there’s a TV adaptation! If you’ve read the book (always, always read the book first), watch the show to see Diana and Matthew’s story come to life onscreen.
5. Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices), by Cassandra Clare
Enter the world of the Shadowhunters – a race of demon-hunting warriors with the blood of angels. Emma Carstairs is a Shadowhunter training at the Los Angeles “Institute.” As one of the fiercest Shadowhunters of her age, she is determined to find – and kill – the person (or demon) who murdered her parents. But there are strange things happening in LA, and Emma must investigate demonic killings alongside her sworn partner, or parabatai, Julian. It’s forbidden to fall in love with your parabatai, but Julian has long been in love with Emma, and her feelings are changing, too.
While the present-day demon hunt drives the plot, there are multiple mysteries to unravel. You’ll root for Emma and Julian’s romance even as you realize they’re doomed for pain and punishment. Gah. I’d highly recommend anything by Cassandra Clare. Start at the beginning with her debut City of Bones, the first in her Mortal Instruments series and our introduction to the world of the Shadowhunters.
6. The Beautiful, by Renee Ahdieh
Renee Ahdieh gives us vampires and paranormal romance in the dark underworld of New Orleans. It’s 1872 and our heroine, Celine, flees Paris to make a new life for herself. She holds tight to her secrets as she attempts to be the “lady” she’s expected to be. However, she finds herself drawn to “La Cour des Lions” (The Court of Lions) led by the handsome and dangerous Sebastien Saint Germain. But there’s a killer on the loose, and Celine is in the predator’s sights.
Fans of Crescent City will appreciate the vivid worldbuilding, female friendship, and romance dripping with tension. Renee Ahdieh’s books are filled with beautiful prose; she paints pictures with words. When she describes beignets, you can almost taste them. The seedy New Orleans of 1872 comes to life, and like Bryce Quinlan, Celine is a particularly bold and independent heroine lured by danger and haunted by her dark misdeeds.
7. From Blood and Ash, by Jennifer Armentrout
This is a take on the “Chosen One” trope. Poppy is the Maiden, a girl waiting for her ascension to serve her kingdom (a rite of passage like the “Drop” in Crescent City). Her face is always covered, and she cannot be spoken to or touched. She struggles to reconcile her duty with her desire for freedom and is particularly tested when a handsome guard enters her life.
Cue the chemistry and delightful banter of a forbidden love affair amidst a troubled, death-ridden kingdom. There are plot twists around every turn and characters who are not who they say they are. Like Crescent City, the set-up in the first half is intriguing yet slow, but you’ll be grateful for the buildup as you ride the roller coaster of the second half.